How Red Bull is maintaining its advantage despite McLaren’s surge

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There can be no disputing that McLaren is one of the, if not, the
team who has made the most progress during the season. We have
repeatedly analysed the development path of the Woking-based team,
with the results in the last four Grands Prix proving correct the
decision of Team Principal Andrea Stella not to develop the base of
the car and instead focusing on a new version mid-season, with this
package coming at the British Grand Prix. In practice, McLaren
analysed its car concept in great depth, extracting critical
elements to find understanding and solutions. This was a decidedly
onerous procedure in terms of time but was not something applicable
to all teams, as was the case for Ferrari and Mercedes, who were
forced to try and make their car concepts work in a shorter period
of time and therefore required to find compromises and solutions
that were never going to be optimal. On a dynamic level, the MCL60
has not undergone changes, being equipped from the outset with a
pull-rod front-suspension and push-rod at the rear, mirroring the
choices made on the last two Red Bulls. Difference between Red Bull
and McLaren It should be said that this does not mean the dynamic
balance and pitch control in particular are carried out in the same
way between the two cars, with the front suspension of the Red Bull
characterised by a strong ‘anti-dive’ tendency under braking making
the management of longitudinal load transfers very effective.
Despite the similarities in suspension architecture, the two cars
maintain big differences in dynamics. McLaren’s recent competitive
performances has moved it to closest challengers to Red Bull, but
it is difficult to assess what specific elements has contributed to
the up-turn in form in the sense that evolution of the MCL60 was
largely concentrated on the floor of the car and specifically the
design of the powerful Venturi channels. In addition to this, the
underside of the sidepods and their upper profile has been
radically modified, with these upgrades enabling McLaren to
generate downforce, but above all, the upgrades have radically
changed the distribution of it. This has significantly improved the
dynamic behaviour of the car, making it very competitive on tracks
with medium and high downforce corners with fast and sharp changes
of direction – such as Qatar. But unlike the RB19, the MCL60 still
cannot be considered an all-round car capable of adapting to any
type of track. The downforce generated by the floor has certainly
been increased, but the overall load generated on fast tracks is
still not optimal, with it therefore right to consider one of the
tangible advantages of the Red Bull compared to the McLaren lies in
the quantity of downforce produced by the floor and bodywork –
greatly reducing the dependence on that produced by wings. A final
comparison can be made with the power units and packaging. McLaren
is equipped with the Mercedes unit, which has certain requirements
for its packaging, while the Honda-RBPT in the back of the Red Bull
has been developed in constant synergy over the past few years,
meaning the team has relative freedom when it comes to the
packaging of the unit. Just think of the shaped radiators of the
RB19, with an arched section, with individual details all combining
to maximise the car balance at the heart of Red Bull’s competitive
advantage. McLaren’s revised sidepod inlets The width of the
sidepod inlets has been reduced so that the front of the sidepods
is better profiled to direct and manage the airflow to the rear of
the car. MCL60: New floor side edge The side edges of the floor
have been an area of constant development throughout the season,
with a horizontal full-length slit now in place to better manage
the airflow underneath the car. MCL60: Stiffer floor at the rear
Striking at Zandvoort was McLaren’s approach to addressing the
deflections at the rear of the car. Deflection at the rear of the
floor was prevented by adding multiple supports. In the latest
version, these no longer exist, ensuring “clean” aerodynamic
airflow In Zandvoort, McLaren’s engineers fitted multiple ‘stays’
to maintain rigidity in the floor at the rear, but in the latest
spec, these have disappeared, which brings the advantage of cleaner
aerodynamics. The Red Bull car: pitch center One of the most
relevant dynamic features of the Red Bull car is its stable
behaviour, which does not allow ride height to change thanks to the
position of the pitch centre of the RB19, as shown below. RB19:
Evolution of the floor edge Like McLaren, the floor edges has also
been an area of focus for the Red Bull engineers.

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